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Joan Naturale collection on Deaf History International

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: RITDSA-0152

Scope and Contents

This collection is comprised of materials relating to the Deaf History International (DHI) club and conference. Box 1 contains administrative paperwork from the executive board of the club. It also holds extensive records on membership renewals and finances of the club. Box 2 contains newsletters published by the club and conference materials related to the annual DHI conference, including materials collected at the IX DHI Conference held in Edinburgh, Scotland. Also included are the following publications: 175 years of Deaf Action: From Benevolence to Empowerment 1835-2010; 2 issues British Deaf News, Feb, July 2015; one packet of information on Scottish Council on Deafness (SCoD). Box 2 also contains other materials that came in with the accession that are not directly related to DHI, but are related to deaf history in general. The entire collection is from between 1990 and 2015.


  • Creation: 1990-2015

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open to researchers.

Historical Information: Deaf History International

DEAF HISTORY INTERNATIONAL (DHI) owes its establishment to a group of interested people at the First International Conference on Deaf History, which was held at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C. USA (June 20–23, 1991). This conference evolved from a suggestion made by Harlan Lane, a professor at Northeastern University in Boston. In the summer of 1989 at a meeting of professional and amateur historians engaged in the study of Deaf History during The Deaf Way Conference, he urged those attending to consider holding their own international meetings from time to time.

As an upshot, the Department of History at Gallaudet University expressed an interest and took the initiative to establish a planning committee for the First International Conference on Deaf History. Its two professors, John V. Van Cleve (also department head) and John S. Schuchman, stepped up to the plate in a huge way to plan and coordinate such an event. In attendance with them at the first formal meeting on September 6, 1990 were other invited organizers from Gallaudet, including Yerker Andersson (professor of Sociology and president of the World Federation of the Deaf), Clifton F. Carbin (holder of the 1990–1991 Powrie V. Doctor Chair of Deaf Studies), Jack R. Gannon (special assistant to the President for Advocacy), Joseph Kinner (associate professor of History) and Ausma Smits (assistant professor of History). Also, present were Harlan Lane (professor of Psychology and Linguistics, Northeastern University) and Cheri Sussman (Gallaudet interpreter).

A number of conference participants at the First International Conference on Deaf History met and decided that a formal organization with an election of international officers was needed to form an entity to “encourage the study, preservation and dissemination of Deaf people’s history” and to hold subsequent conferences. This vision was accepted with much enthusiasm. As a result, an elected committee was set up to lay the groundwork. Members of this group were Christian Barral (France) and Jack R. Gannon (USA) as co-chairs, Mary Malzkhun (USA) as secretary, Günther List (Germany) as treasurer, Igor A. Abramov (Russia), Serge Briere (Canada), John Hay (Great Britain), Harlan Lane (USA), Hans Roehl (Germany), and Ausma Smits (USA).

The credit for the actual establishment of DEAF HISTORY INTERNATIONAL goes to Ausma Smits (USA), who untiringly did the “plowing and planting” to make it all happen. She called the meeting of historians at The Deaf Way Conference, drafted the Bylaws, set up groundwork committee meetings, and invited some key individuals for consultation and feedback.



1 Linear Feet (2 document boxes)

1 Item(s) (1 poster)




Materials related to Deaf History International Conferences. These conferences were attended by Wallace Library's NTID liason librarian Joan Naturale.


Materials are arranged by type.

Physical Location

temporary range 64 poster drawer 1

Other Finding Aids

In addition to this finding aid, an inventory is available below. For more information, please contact the RIT Archive Collections.

Joan Naturale collection on Deaf History International

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Collection was donated to the RIT/NTID Deaf Studies Archive in August 2015 by Joan Naturale.

Accession number(s): 2015:112, 2018:072

Processing Information

Finding aid created by Jody Sidlauskas in February 2016. Revised by Ella von Holtum in March 2019. Revised by Jen Roeszies in May 2022.

Joan Naturale collection on IX Deaf History International Conference
RIT/NTID Deaf Studies Archive
Jody Sidlauskas
22 February 2016
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the RIT Archives Repository

Rochester NY 14623 USA